POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Are Catholic priests ever right to break their sacred vow on keeping confessional secrets in sexual abuse cases? … there are extremely strong views on BOTH sides of this question

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 1, 2011

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The Belfast Telegraph reports (9/1/11) … 

  • One of the most difficult questions facing a Catholic priest is to decide whether or not to give the police and state authorities the information he has obtained in the confessional box.
  • This looming conflict between a priest’s conscience and the demands of the state has been created by the Republic’s justice minister, Alan Shatter, who intends to introduce legislation which would compel priests to pass on information from all their sources in order to assist child protection.
  • The Irish government’s intention to take such sweeping action follows a blazing row between the Taioseach, Enda Kenny, and the Vatican in the wake of the Cloyne report.
  • This report revealed that the diocese’s former bishop, Dr John Magee, had failed to follow the child protection rules established in 2009 and did not pass on to the authorities allegations of child sexual abuse in Cloyne.
  • Many people would argue that there is no question about it – priests should do everything they can to protect children.
  • If that means that a Catholic priest, after hearing confession, must pass on the name of someone who has admitted child sexual abuse – or the identity of someone else involved in abuse – then so be it.
  • However, Fr O’Kane is clear where his duty lies. He says: “In a criminal matter, a priest may encourage a penitent to surrender to the authorities voluntarily. However, this is the most that a priest can do. We cannot directly, or indirectly, disclose the crime to anyone.”

read the entire article at … http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/sacrificing-secrecy-may-be-the-only-moral-choice-16043404.html

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